The Swedish Federation of Cemeteries and Crematoria ran the tests in December at a crematorium at Sandviken, near Gävle, recording data from 21 individual cremations.
“We want to learn how NOx is produced during a cremation,” the organisation’s technical advisor Torbjörn Samuelsson told The Local. “To do that we need to look at where the NOx is coming from: it could be from the coffins, it could be from the deceased, it could be from the supplementary fuel.”
The federation tested coffins built of solid wood, coffins buildt from chipboard, and coffins made from chipboard which had been painted and lined with silver foil.
Samuelsson said that the engineers running the tests had not informed the families of the deceased that data from the cremation was being recorded.
“We are absolutely not going to reveal who it was that we cremated in this way,” he said. “It still has to be done in an ethical way, even if we are analysing the result of the cremation.”
Peter Jensen, the co-founder of the upmarket Swedish coffin-maker Nilssons Trämanufaktur, said that his company had already taken actions to lower its emissions.
“We could not just ignore the environmental aspects when we found out the problems with nitrogen emissions,” he tolfd Sydsvenksan newspaper. “We think there is a good solution right in front of our noses: only usepine coffins. That’s something all manufacturers can do.”
“It just as important to think about the environment when planning a funeral as when you buy food,” his co-founder Tomas Stadler said. “But it is difficult to build consumer pressure around it. There aren’t many people who say, ‘I want an environmentally friendly coffin’.”
The results of the tests were carried out at the start of December and are now being analysed. The federation intends to publish its conclusions before March.